TUSTIN — With Tustin's LP Repertory Dinner Theatre on the brink of disaster, Company B hopes to ride to the rescue.
Company B, a local 10-person variety troupe, will put on benefit performances of its show "All Night Long" today through Sunday at the financially strapped company's storefront playhouse. LP Repertory, about $80,000 behind on its rent, needs to raise $5,000 to stave off eviction at the end of this month.
Trisha Andreatta, the theater's "office administrator-slash-everything," said LP Repertory has tried to bring something new to the standard dinner-theater fare since opening late in 1988. "You won't see us doing 'Music Man' or 'Man of La Mancha,' " Andreatta said.
Managing director William J. Durkin founded the theater as an adjunct to the Lilliput Players, a successful children's theater group for more than a decade. Sarah Coleman, founder of the Lilliput Players and Durkin's girlfriend, died last July of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).
But the theater has struggled since the beginning, canceling as many as half its performances because of poor attendance. "Nobody knows we're here," said Andreatta, citing the theater's lack of visibility (it can't afford to advertise) as its main problem.
Before the 150-seat theater opened, it was forced to divert its advertising budget to meet stringent city sanitation codes, even though the theater has its meals catered. Many of the improvements later proved to be unnecessary, Andreatta said.
"Our theater is having some severe financial problems," Andreatta said. Backers need to come up with $10,000 to keep the lease; it has $5,000 in reserve and hopes to raise the rest with the shows this weekend. The theater has suspended performances of its own production, "El Grande de Coca Cola," to make room for the benefits.
Company B Productions is an offshoot of Young Americans Dinner Theater, which operated out of a dinner theater of its own in Huntington Harbour until last September, when it disbanded. Three of the principals went on to form Company B, a five-man, five-woman music, dance and comedy troupe that has toured and performed locally at Knott's Berry Farm and the Harlequin Dinner Playhouse (now Hamptons).
Company B may make LP Repertory a regular home if the theater remains afloat, according to Bob McDonald, the troupe's chief executive officer. Other local groups have recently contacted LP Repertory about staging productions there, Andreatta said, including Stop-Gap Theatre and the Orange County Black Actors Theatre. Neither group currently has a permanent home.
"The space itself is very adaptable to whatever we want to do," said Andreatta, who is determined to keep LP Repertory going. "It's a great theater. It's a great location."
\o7 "All Night Long" by Company B Productions will be performed tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. Also, Sunday at 1 p.m. At LP Repertory Dinner Theatre, 15732 D Tustin Village Way, Tustin. Tickets: $25, including meal. Information: (714) 835-9611. \f7